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German insurance company admits it did business with Nazi SS

June 2, 1997

BONN, Germany (AP) _ A German insurance company has acknowledged that it insured barracks and other facilities at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, a news magazine reported.

``We brought guilt upon ourselves during the Third Reich, but we never enriched ourselves from the Holocaust,″ Herbert Hansmeyer, a board member of the German firm Allianz, told Der Spiegel.

Allianz and other companies sold fire, liability and accident insurance to Nazi SS units that operated Auschwitz and other concentration camps, covering such things as supply depots, motor pools and barracks, Der Spiegel said.

Allianz inspectors also examined SS factories where inmates worked, Der Spiegel said.

Allianz’ dealings with the SS ``placed us very close to the Holocaust, which is disturbing,″ Hansmeyer said, adding it’s possible some Allianz employees ``even knew what was happening in the camps.″

About 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz alone from 1940 to 1945.

Hansmeyer said Allianz was the lead insurer selling policies to SS units running the camps.

He said, however, that Allianz cannot be blamed for the millions of deaths inside the camps and maintained Allianz made very little profit from its business with the SS.

Earlier this year, Allianz and several other insurance companies were sued in U.S. District Court in New York, accused of dragging their feet in paying claims to Holocaust victims.

The Nazis ordered German insurance companies in 1938 to turn over half the proceeds of insurance policies on Jews to the Third Reich government. After the war, Germany compensated some victims; Allianz says it helped settle about 3,000 such claims.

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